OAKLAND — A town ordinance that would require dog owners to clean up their pet’s waste on public property took a step forward Wednesday when town councilors asked staff to create a draft of the regulations.

The council considered the proposal in early April, prompted by complaints from a resident about the amount of dog feces left on sidewalks in town. At the time, councilors said they wanted to get public feedback before moving forward.

At a meeting Wednesday, Town Manager Gary Bowman said that residents have largely been receptive to the idea.

“The comment I get from the general public is that they would like an ordinance,” Bowman told councilors.

Enforcing the ordinance would be difficult, he said.

Two of the people who commented on the ordinance suggested that the town could do DNA tests on the feces to determine what dog it came from, but Bowman said his research showed that could cost around $64 for each test.

Another option could be to hand out copies of the ordinance to people when they come into the town office to register their dog, an idea proposed by the councilors during initial discussions of the ordinance.

“I think anything we do would help the situation,” Bowman said.

Oakland has an animal control ordinance that lays out regulations for barking, but doesn’t cover animal waste.

Neighboring Waterville’s animal control ordinance requires dog owners to immediately remove and lawfully dispose of animal feces left on public streets or property or private property of another. Violators can be fined $50 for a first offense and $100 for subsequent offenses.

Many of the ordinances he found were similar to the one in Waterville and it would be easy to draft regulations for Oakland, Bowman said.

Wendy Burton, who lives on Water Street, initially brought the complaint to the town office.

At the meeting Tuesday, she told councilors that she was concerned about the amount of feces that was left on a popular dog walking path between Hubbard and Water streets. She estimated there were at least 30 piles littering the trail.

“It was horrible this winter, just horrible,” Burton said.

Besides being unsightly, leaving dog waste around can create a health issue, she added. She showed the council a roll of small blue plastic bags she uses to pick up her own dog’s waste when she walks it around town.

“I would like to think that Oakland is a community with some civic pride, that’s all,” she told councilors.

Bowman said he has seen instances of small plastic bags filled with dog waste on the side of Church Street.

“There’s a lot of support for this ordinance,” said Councilor Dana Wrigley. The prevalence of smart phones equipped with video and still cameras could make enforcement easier, he said.

Councilors directed Bowman to draw up a draft ordinance for them to consider at their meeting in early May.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


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